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As predicted, yesterday’s runoff election in Zimbabwe was a sham. There, people are still destitute from a hyperinflation. The people are still hungry from a food shortage, doubtless exacerbated by Zanu PF land-seizures, which re-allot the land from experienced farmers to soldiers who have no farming skills.
Yesterday’s polling did provide some humorous responses. One voter put a question mark next to Robert Mugabe’s name. Another simply stayed home, broke open a ballpoint pen, and bled the ink onto his finger, signifying Zimbabwe’s version of our “I Voted” stickers.
Zanu PF militiamen provided voters with pre-marked ballots, which they handed to voters, and instructed them to simply hand the ballots back. Other militiamen required the voter identification number on the back of each ballot. Still other militias compelled voters to sleepover at Zanu PF’s headquarters the night before the vote. They all told the people to go correct their mistakes.
The ruling party chairman, John Nkomo, broadcasted Robert Mugabe’s pitch:
“Our statehood and our nationhood are under severe threat. The question before each and every one of us is whether, advertently or inadvertently, we will go down in the annals of history as defenders of our motherland or as traitors who unabashedly volunteered for servitude.”
This made me think about history, especially the kind of history that comes on paper like ballots. Perhaps some of the votes Mugabe received were sincere support for his election. His legacy, after all, does include his liberation of Zimbabwe from colonial power. However, most cast their vote for him, because they did not feel like letting their head get bashed in.
According to foreign news sources, voter turnout was very low, but according to the state media, it was a massive turnout. The state media does not so much spin the stories as it reverses them 180 degrees. When Zanu PF militiamen stoned and beat farmers and seized their land, the MDC supporters did it. When it became cheaper to wipe your ass with Zimbabwean dollars than to buy toilet paper, the economy was strong. When people are starving, there is a bit of food missing from store shelves.
Despite the violence and coercion, some poll booths turned out some interesting results. One produced 36 votes for Mugabe, 17 for Morgan Tsvangirai (whose name was kept on the ballot), and 31 spoiled ballots, and another returned 107 for Mugabe, 76 for Tsvangirai, and 30 spoiled ballots.
If the numbers can be trusted, the votes cast for Tsvangirai are encouraging. Those voters showed great courage. The spoiled ballots were also heartening and more apropos of the spoiled election in general. A spoiled ballot is a bit of a misnomer, as it is clear that they represent votes cast in the don’t-piss-on-my-head-and-tell-me-it’s-raining column.
I can’t figure it out: In this doddering regime, why should Robert Mugabe bothered with the balloting. Or more specifically, after labeling democratic ideals as Western imperialism, why should he compel the people under him to participate in a democratic process? Why does Robert Mugabe insist—as if it were anything but the machinations of his own dictatorship—on calling what he is doing an Act of the People of Zimbabwe? He’s not fooling anybody, so why doesn’t he declare himself dictator for life?
Well why anything.
Mugabe’s militias keep him where he is based on false promises and borrowed time. But as the country slips further into poverty and disarray, even his soldiers will grow hungry and poor. His militias will tire of propping up the flaccid prick of a deranged man and demand a new order. And Robert Mugabe, if he lasts that long, will be sent to some island in the Caribbean for house arrest complete with a bed to rot in and a mountain of worthless paper with his face on it and a sleek Trinidadian maid to listen to his bullshit.
Come on, Zimbabwe!